Tutorial-- Perfect "Turn-and-Stitch" Curved Edges and Hems

Monday, July 5, 2010

Whether sewing a top or dress for children like the one pictured above, or garments for adults, often  the "turned-and-stitched" concave curved edges, of necklines, armscyes, and shirt hems pucker and twist...no matter how careful we are.

While the pattern for the blouse pictured above had good directions for turning a nice smooth armscye,  most patterns just tell you to turn the fabric edge twice to the wrong side and top-stitch, and skip a crucial step.

Some of you who are experienced sewists no doubt are already familiar with the technique shown below. For those who are not, I'll show you how I sew no-pucker "turn-and-stitch" edges that never fail to look professional. While demonstrated with armscye edges, the same technique can be used on a turn-and-stitched neckline edge, and shirt-tail hems.

Here is an example of a top with turn-and-stitch armscyes.  The fabric I chose for this example is polyester lining, very slippery, with no stretch at all. I chose a difficult fabric to show how this simple technique will work without any "help" from fabric with natural fiber and/or any degree of stretch.

If your pattern calls for 5/8" seam allowances, trim the seam allowance of the edge to be turned to 1/4" or 3/8".
Then turn the edge 1/4" (or 3/8" if that is the seam allowance you are using) to the wrong side of the garment and press.

Now here is the simple step that is missed in many pattern instructions.  However, it is crucial to a professionally turned edge.  What needs to be done next is very easy...just make tiny clips into
the turned edge every 1/2" or so, as shown below.

Then turn the edge again 1/4" (or 3/8" if that is the seam allowance you are using) to the wrong side, encasing the raw clipped edge. Press well.  It should now look like this--

The final step is to secure the folded edge by top-stitching from the right side.  You will then press the edge. Here is my quick sample shown unpressed so you can see how making those tiny clips into the first fold results in a perfectly pucker-free folded edge :)